Hedgehogs are facing extinction
THE most common question I am asked these days is ‘Where have all the hedgehogs gone?’
And the devastating news is that these wonderful native creatures are facing extinction in this country. Hedgehog numbers have plummeted by 30 per cent in the past 10 years – they are disappearing as fast as tigers are worldwide.
Millions of hedgehogs used to wander through our gardens and fields but now we have less than 900,000 in the United Kingdom.
The last one I saw was in my mum’s garden in Salford but spotting this beautiful creature filled me with dread because I realised that to cover its hunting area it would need to cross more than one busy road.
Yes, housing estates are not safe places for hedgehogs. People tend to fence off their gardens with no gaps for these beautiful British mammals to sneak through. Their only alternative is to risk their lives on footpaths and roads.
Obviously the removal of many hedgerows in the countryside has affected hedgehog numbers too. It’s all in the name, hedgehogs live and feed in hedges, so when we remove the hedges we remove the hedgehogs.
The problem with hedgehogs is that they need to wander quite a large distance to look for food. If you have a hedgehog in your garden it will wander to at least five of your neighbours’ gardens to look for food.
At the Wildlife Trusts we think about hedgehogs and lots of other wildlife and we are creating wonderful hedgerows on our reserves. And you can help out too by leaving or making small gaps in your fences to create ‘hedgehog highways’ where they can wander and seek food.
As you prepare your garden leave log and leaf piles as shelters for hedgehogs, or you can buy a purpose-built home where they can hibernate. If you are lucky enough to have a hedgehog ensure any deep holes or gullies are covered up so they can’t get stuck.
Having a hedgehog in your garden is great news if you are a gardener as they really love to munch on big, crunchy beetles, earthworms and slugs. Those rotten woodpiles will be great larders for hedgehogs with earwigs, centipedes and wood lice.
In fact the mild winter will mean a lot more food around for the few hedgehogs we have in this region.
For many of you, seeing a hedgehog is an amazing experience and we should ensure that generations to come have the chance to share that experience.
To become a member of the Trust go to the website at www.lancswt. org.uk or call 01772 324129. For more information about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewildlifetrust.org. uk.
Hedgehogs need to wander long distances to find food